By Alan Caruba
I have marveled for years at the failure of Americans to make any connection between the hatred for oil that has dominated environmental activities and the reason why we are all now paying over $4.00 a gallon at the pump.
Take, for example, two recent news reports. The Associated Press on July 1 in a report from Billings, Montana, noted that “Groups Seek Oil Drilling Ban Near Sage Grouse Habitat.” I suspect one could make an “endangered species” pitch that any oil drilling anywhere involves some poor “endangered species” even if it included areas over which birds migrate.
In this particular case, “two conservation groups have asked the federal government to impose new restrictions on oil and gas development in the West to protect the greater safe grouse, a popular game bird on the decline.” Well, if it is a game bird and a popular one at that, the likelihood that hunters are dining on them is probably causing a decline in their population. On the other hand, hunters have been doing this since the earliest Native Americans discovered what a tasty meal they make.
Here’s where it gets troublesome. “Federal rules now say oil and gas companies cannot drill within a quarter of a mile of sage grouse breeding areas.” No doubt there are a dozen more such species whose existence is used to justify a ban on drilling for oil or gas. This is how the idiotic Endangered Species Act works and, indeed, why this useless piece of legislation was enacted. Why Congress continues to renew it is part and parcel why Americans can’t get access to their own oil and natural gas.
If Congress were actually to authorize drilling offshore, the environmentalists would be filing law suits to protect dolphin or jellyfish.
Meanwhile, in Whiting, Indiana, the National Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit on July 9 “intended to stop the expansion of a BP oil refinery” on the grounds that the permits granted to BP by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management “simply do not protect the public and do not live up to the law.” One can be fairly sure that the NRDC did not ask any member of the public their opinion regarding this action.
One of the major contributing factors to the rising cost of gasoline has been the failure to build a new oil refinery anywhere in the United States since the late 1970s. Some expansion of existing ones has occurred, but how do environmentalists expect a population of 300 million in a nation where there is at least one car or truck for every one of them to get anywhere without expanding the capacity to refine oil into gasoline and other products like jet fuel?
The answer is, of course, Greens don’t want us to have additional gasoline and they have been instrumental in securing Congressional mandates that the gasoline we do use includes a mixture of ethanol. Ethanol requires more energy to produce than gasoline and provides less mileage than gasoline. Its drawdown on the nation’s corn and soy crops also drives up their cost per bushel and the cost of the literally thousands of foods and products that utilize them in some fashion.
Meanwhile, in the name of reducing greenhouse gases that have no impact on a global warming that is not occurring, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it is “considering” fuel efficiency standards for autos that are far more stringent than the current mandate for 35 miles per gallon.
Experts at The Heartland Institute such as James M. Taylor, a Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy asked, “Does EPA have any heart at all? If the agency mandates still-tighter fuel economy standards, consumers will needlessly feel the double-punch of higher gasoline prices and higher automobile prices.” Over at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Sam Kazman, General Counsel, noted that no matter what it costs consumers, “none of this is good enough for politicians and bureaucrats who think technology mandates are a cost-free panacea.”
Then there is the immutable law of thermodynamics that says that there is only so much energy that can be gotten from a gallon of gasoline and even less if you mix it with ethanol.
The answer, of course, is that the EPA is the same agency that banned the manufacture and use of DDT, a pesticide that could have prevented the deaths of millions in Africa from malaria, along with a bunch of other pesticides whose purpose is to protect the rest of us from the diseases that insects and rodents spread. After the introduction of West Nile Fever on the East coast, it took barely five years for it to reach the West Coast.
The bottom line is that, along with oil, environmentalists hate anything that might keep us alive and gets us from point A to point B without costing a fortune.